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Down Under Visa Office – Business As Usual


I use this phrase fairly often when communicating with clients. “Business as usual”! I can remember seeing signs saying this back in the 1970’s during petrol strikes. It meant that despite apparent disruption, everything goes on as per usual. Relax mate!


Down Under Visa office open for business during the COVID-19 Coronavirus days


Well, yeah. That’s how things are in the Down Under Visa office.

When the lockdowns first happened in March, yes I don’t mind saying it was a shock to the system. I’m Aussie! Not used to this stuff! Australia has had natural disasters for all its history, but things like cyclones are normally gone in a day or two. Big cleanup, and then….well….business as usual. Not accustomed to stuff like this.

Philippines where we are? Most people can still remember martial law, and most are scared of the police. Some older folk can remember having to bow to Japanese or face dire consequences. My parents in law can. Filipinos are used to brown-outs, running out of water, power going off because they can’t pay the bill, and are used to guards telling them to line up and face a pat-down. 

So whilst Aussies were knocking each other over to horde toilet rolls, Filipinos were pretty laid-back. The President….or Governor….or Mayor says wear a mask and stand in lines? OK. No problem. Fortunately they did allow the Down Under Visa office to keep functioning, despite some adjustments.

Being an Aussie myself? Not quite so laid-back. We ended up with umpteen sacks of rice, stacks of tuna cans (which my baby Megan loves building towers with!), and a fairly full larder. We installed a water tank, which we haven’t touched since it was installed. Didn’t know what to expect.

But now? Barely think about it. Going out means wearing masks and cleaning everything with alcohol. It’s become second nature. The shops have everything, and Lazada have the rest (check next time you’re here). And if you have the right passes, you can get past the local checkpoints. Haven’t been into Manila, but don’t really need to.


The Down Under Visa Office


Well, the physical Down Under Visa office is closed and has been since March when this started. They consider us to be “travel agents” here, and travel agents are seen as non-essential (naturally) so for now it stays shut. However, all it means is no physical appointments. Nothing more. The work goes on, and we haven’t missed a single day.


So, day-to-day?

  • Mila and I work here in our home office, which we always did.
  • Three of our staff members moved in with us, and work here every day.
  • Six of our other staff members work remotely from their homes
  • And whilst paper documents are rare these days, the couriers like us and delivery anything that was destined for the Down Under Visa office right to our door anyway

So yes, definitely business as usual! Most of our staff have been with us for 4 – 5 years or so, and the only differences are that their desks are a lot further apart than before!

So whilst it’s normal to worry when faced with the unknown, the “new normal” isn’t so bad for us. My thoughts (and yes my prayers) are with those poor folk here who can’t, and of course with our clients who are apart from their loved-ones. 


Visa Applications in Covid-19 Days


The Department of Home Affairs (Immigration) are still functioning. 

That means visa applications can and are being lodged. Visa applications are being processed. Visas are being granted.

Some are slow. Some are surprisingly quick. Some visa types can be slow OR fast. If I sound vague when you ask me “How long do you think it will take?”, I’m not being uncaring in my response. I simply can’t give you a straight answer, and I see no value in my guessing. I may as well pull a number out of a hat for all its worth! Please try to understand that. We do all we can to fight for you and yes we are ALWAYS on your side. However we’re all dealing with a system that lacks flexibility and is rarely easy to communicate with. 


Spouses – Tourist Visas and Partner Visas

Spouses (ie MARRIED or in existing DE FACTO relationships) can get a waiver of the travel ban, which means they can enter Australia.

This means:

  • They can visit Australia on a Tourist Visa
  • They can apply for Onshore Partner Visas when inside Australia


Everyone else?

Well, unless the visa holder is already in Australia, it’s a bit limited sorry to say. If you need to extend your stay in Australia? Let us know!

However as most of you are in this for the long haul, you know this will not last forever. Being apart sucks! Mila’s Prospective Marriage Visa way-back took two months to process in Hong Kong, and THAT sucked! We’d known each other nearly two years by the time she arrives in Australia, so we had already spent plenty of time apart. It’s tough, but what are you gonna do? If she’s the right one, you soldier on! As the decades go on, the miseries just fade into distant memory.

And it will do the same for you! Rest assured!

They won’t give travel ban waivers for boyfriend/girlfriend couples, and they won’t give them to engaged couples either sorry. So you still have some time before you can be together. 


What should you do?


What did I do in my time apart from Mila? Not just waiting for visas to be granted, but waiting until we knew what we wanted and when I could take a trip to Hong Kong and manually lodge the paper visa application (as we did in those days). What did I do?

I kept busy! Lots of home renovations and improvements. 

What are a lot of our clients doing? Working on partner visa applications!

Yes, many have used this unusual time to do some serious thinking and have come up with the conclusion that they really want to be together! Many a couple who had had a series of tourist visas before has concluded that it’s time to take the plunge! 

Can we get you together quickly? If you are married or are in a de facto relationship, yes most likely we can. If not? No, it will take time. But you can either sit around or you can get stuck into it. Visa applications for Partner Visas take time and effort, and well-prepared applications get great results. 

So if you haven’t already? Consider making a start and do something to bring you both together! It’s Business-As-Usual with the Down Under Visa office, and we’re happy to help.


Free online visa assessment form from Down Under Visa


Jeff Harvie is a Registered Migration Agent from Australia, but resident in Philippines since 2010 with his Filipina wife Mila and large extended family. Experienced with the Philippines culture, cross-cultural relationships and bureaucracy as well as Australian visas and Australian Migration Law, he writes with authority and fortunately with enough informality and humour that the average Aussie gets it! Down Under Visa specialises in visas for Australians in relationships with ladies and gents from Philippines, Thailand, China and Vietnam. Read MORE
Down Under Visa - August 2020 Visa Update - Video
Onshore Partner Visas in COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Times


  1. Mike Trotter

    Jeff, your reassuring message to all prospective clients is great and encouraging. Most impressive. It appears you are managing well there despite the corona-virus restrictions.
    We in Oz, are really hurting as the current restrictions are nothing we have every experienced before. So, it is good to hear you are doing much better.
    Carry on, take care and be safe…

    • Jeff Harvie

      We have plenty of restrictions here, Mike. But what can we do? We just get on with it. Good luck there.

  2. Pedro Gonzales

    Good to see you are still helping couples…keep up the good work!
    However you didn’t mention 2 important things
    1)The $3,000 per person quarantine fee on arrival in Australia (ouch!)
    2)The difficulty (cancellations, travel to Manila) and cost of getting flights to Australia…in many cases only business class is available and due to demand the airlines are now charging in excess of $9,000 one way per person (this is not a joke)


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